Catholic leaders to Trump: Don't cut foreign assistance

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Catholic leaders to Trump: Don't cut foreign assistance

03/20/2017

The United States mustn’t cut foreign aid while conflicts, famines, and a worldwide refugee crisis rage, Catholic leaders are insisting, Christian Telegraph reports according to Catholic News Agency.

Amid a “huge, unprecedented refugee situation” around the globe and four countries with famines or on the cusp of famine “we’re just extremely concerned that the resources won’t be there to respond to those really critical humanitarian needs,” Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, told CNA on Friday of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget that cuts some foreign assistance.

President Trump’s “skinny” proposed “America First” budget for FY 2018 – a more detailed plan will be released later -- increases defense spending and immigration enforcement, and makes significant cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department, among other agencies and programs, to offset those increases.

“This includes deep cuts to foreign aid. It is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share,” President Trump stated in the proposal.

The proposal trims almost a third – 29 percent – of the International Affairs Budget, David Beckmann, president of the group Bread for the World, told CNA.

And while the number of persons displaced from their homes is at its highest ever recorded at over 65 million, with over 21 million of those refugees, the U.S. should not be cutting its foreign aid to vulnerable populations, CRS insisted.

With huge movements of people comes instability, O’Keefe said. “If we don’t meet” the humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations, “people will move and that will be destabilizing.”

106 faith leaders signed a letter sent to congressional leaders on Thursday in “support for the International Affairs Budget that every day brings hope to poor, hungry, vulnerable and displaced men, women and children around the world.”

Signers of the letter included Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn and chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, and Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee.

“With just 1 percent of our nation’s budget, the International Affairs Budget has helped alleviate the suffering of millions; drastically cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty in half, stopping the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDs and Ebola, and nearly eliminating polio,” they stated.

“Additionally, it promotes freedom and human rights, protecting religious freedom for millions around the world.”

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